By Jim Miklaszewski, Courtney Kube,
F. Brinley Bruton and Jason Cumming, NBC News
Two Americans were kidnapped by pirates after their ship was attacked off Nigeria‘s coast, U.S. officials said Thursday.
Maritime news website gCaptain reported that the ship’s captain and its chief engineer had been abducted.
U.S. officials said the working assumption was that the pair had been kidnapped for ransom.
Nigerian military officials, who deployed army and navy units in the hunt to find the kidnappers, as of late Thursday had no “hard information” on the whereabouts of them or the two American sailors taken hostage, a Nigerian Navy spokesman told NBC News.
The spokesman attributed the abductions to “criminals in the delta,” emphasizing they were common criminals and pirates, not militants. Creeks and swamps leading to the Nigerian coast were being searched for the hostages.
The seized vessel is owned by Louisiana-based Edison Chouest Offshore, according to Reuters. The company was not immediately available for comment.
Sources told NBC News that there were no U.S. warships in the region and no immediate plans for a hostage rescue attempt. However, there is a contingent of U.S. Marines aboard a Dutch warship in the area as part of a military exchange program.